Reading: Why 20 minutes a night is so important.

Now that school is in full swing and our petites are back in their routines, I wanted to take a minute to talk about why teachers tell students/parents to read for 20 minutes a night.  When I first started teaching in elementary schools I was asked a lot about the 20 minutes and why it was 20 and not 15.  When you did deeper into the research it is pretty astounding and that 20 minutes is really critical.

Most theorists are agreed that the bulk of vocabulary growth during a child’s lifetime occurs indirectly through language exposure, rather than through direct teaching.  Miller & Gildea, (1987) Nagy & Anderson (1984).

Why to read for 20 minutes

Nagy & Herman 1987


When you consider the amount of words and exposure to words kids need to be successful and when you think about 20 minutes a day, that really isn’t that much time for the investment you are making.  With that said, we are all super busy and short on time.  I find that keeping a schedule makes it easier for us to get that time in.

There are so many benefits to reading with your child for 20 minutes a night.

  • improves listening skills
  • engages children in discussion about books
  • builds connections with parents/guardians
  • opportunity to discuss new words or ideas from the books
  • realistic opportunities for growth – sometimes your kids get to see you making mistakes which is GREAT!
  • more contact time with words
  • practice makes perfect
  • builds confidence in kids reading skills, even when basic skills
  • improves test score success over time

I realize as I write this that, as a teacher, I might be a lot more comfortable than some in reading aloud with children.  For some reading aloud doesn’t come naturally and feels a little strange or forced – what I will say here is practice makes perfect.  I guarantee that your kids are so thrilled to have your attention and focus that they won’t judge if you pronounce something incorrectly.  In fact, I bet that the more silly voices you do the more they will love it.

I plan to continue to talk about reading and the benefits of reading with kids in this blog. If there is something that you would like to know more about or if you have suggestions for me please let me know in the comments below.  I would love to hear from you.



3 thoughts on “Reading: Why 20 minutes a night is so important.

    • Ruth, so sorry I thought I responded to this months ago! Yikes. It is based on the 180 days of school for kids here in the US. So the number of minutes read are multiplied by days of school each year. Again sorry for the incredible delay in response.


  1. Pingback: 10 Steps to Raising Petite Readers | The Petite Stag

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